We sat down with one of the newest members of the Physical Therapy Department Assistant Professor Ericka Merriwether. Here, Dr. Merriwether shares her background with us, her research interests, and her hopes for the upcoming year.
What is your background, and what brought you to NYU? I have a clinical doctorate in physical therapy (DPT) from the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences in Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in Movement Science from Washington University in St. Louis. I accepted a faculty position in the Department of Physical Therapy here at NYU Steinhardt, and am looking forward to working with clinicians and researchers within the school, and in other departments at NYU.
What is your research focused on, and what made you interested in the topic?
My research focus is on the interaction of multiple systems involved in obesity and chronic musculoskeletal pain, and how these interactions affect movement and physical function. My interest in this topic stemmed from my research in pain mechanisms and musculoskeletal movement dysfunction in patient populations (diabetes and chronic pain) that were along the spectrum of obesity.
These experiences shaped my perspective as a physical therapist to ask research questions related to how we address stereotypes and other barriers to successful rehabilitation in obese adults with chronic pain, so that we can meet the unique therapeutic needs of this patient population.
What courses are you teaching in the PT department this year?
This year I’ll be teaching Critical Inquiry and Clinical Decision Making III, which if offered to third year DPT students, as well as Kinesiology/Biomechanics/Ergonomics with my colleagues in the department, which is offered to first year DPT students.
What do you find most rewarding about educating future Physical Therapists?
The most rewarding aspect of teaching future PT’s is the introduction and/or continuance of the portions of the curriculum that address culturally responsive care and the therapeutic alliance between the physical therapist and the patient. I am also looking forward to extending conversations about pain mechanisms and management in different patient populations using evidence-based principles that I’ve been examining in my research.